Poisons, Powders, and Prescriptions: What You Need To Know Before Shipping Hazardous And Dangerous Goods

Disclaimer: This guideline is designed to assist a certified shipper with hazardous materials and dangerous goods. This information does not meet training requirements for the U.S. Department Of Transportation, Transport Canada, or The International Air Transport Association. ShipTime is not responsible for goods that don’t meet the appropriate regulations and laws.

We’ve got a lot of weird stuff laying around the house, so how do you know what’s safe for shipping and what’s not?

In the shipping industry, there are certain goods that are considered “safe” to ship with standard service, while others are considered too hazardous or dangerous.

These shipments are formally called hazardous materials and dangerous goods, and you’d be surprised at how many items that you would find around the house or at work fall into this category.

Hazardous materials (HM) and dangerous goods (DG) are defined as commodities that, when transported, pose some form of danger to people, animals, the environment, or the carrier. They are subject to laws and regulations to ensure that they are transported safely.

Some HMs and DGs are unacceptable to ship altogether. Alcohol, perfume, prescription drugs, tobacco and firearms are considered to be non-mailable matter and have special restrictions.

As a shipper you are responsible for correctly identifying and classifying the goods you are shipping to determine what rules and regulations will apply to your shipment.

To help you identify your goods, HMs and DGs are organized into 9 different classes:

Class 1 – Explosives

Class 2 – Compressed Gases

Class 3 – Flammable Liquids

Class 4 – Flammable Solids, Spontaneously Combustible, Dangerous When Wet

Class 5 – Oxidizers and Organic Peroxides

Class 6 – Poisonous and Infectious

Class 7 – Radioactive

Class 8 – Corrosive

Class 9 – Miscellaneous

*Consult one of the resources at the bottom of this post to help you determine the appropriate classification for your HM or DG.

As a shipper, once you have properly identified and classified your HM or DG, you have additional responsibilities that you must fulfill in order to ensure safety at all times. On top of the correct identification and classification of your HM or DG, you are also responsible for correctly packaging, marking, labeling, handling and completing all required documentation according to national and international governmental regulations.

To ensure that all rules and regulations are met, the federal governments of the USA and Canada require all shippers of HM and DG to have job-specific training before offering a hazardous material or dangerous goods shipment. This training requires the shipper to present the correct certification and proof of training to federal enforcement agencies upon request.

Each material and good has specific rules and regulations attributed to it. Some goods must be shipped on the ground, while others can be shipped in the air, some goods must be accessible, while others unaccessible, some require specific labels and documentation — it can be intimidating for a new shipper. So, we’ve put together a list of resources to get you started and help find the right information to ship your hazardous materials or dangerous goods safely, check them out:




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